Trial scheduled to begin in Ohio campaign probe


CLEVELAND (AP) — The trial of a northeast Ohio businessman accused of funneling illegal campaign contributions to two Republican candidates is scheduled to begin.

Ohio-Campaigns-Probe Sidd

FILE-This Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012 file photo shows Josh Mandel speaking before a rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., at the Gradall Industries plant in New Philadelphia, Ohio. On the eve of a federal court trial for the owner of a northeastern Ohio telemarketing company who is accused of violating campaign laws is the question of whether two prominent Ohio politicians will be called to testify. Ben Suarez, 72, owner of North Canton-based Suarez Industries Corporation, was charged along with a top company official for having allegedly coerced employees to make donations totaling about $100,000 each to U.S Rep. Jim Renacci and then-U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel in 2011. (AP Photo/Phil Long, File)

The trial of 72-year-old Benjamin Suarez is set to open Monday morning in federal court in Cleveland.

The millionaire Stark County businessman is accused of funneling about $100,000 each to the 2012 re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. James Renacci and to the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel.

Both campaigns returned the contributions after learning of allegations that Suarez and Michael Giorgio conspired to bundle contributions in the names of employees and their spouses.

Giorgio, the chief financial officer for Suarez Corporation Industries in North Canton, pleaded guilty to similar charges May 19 and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.



People close to case: Ohio politicians subpoenaed

MARK GILLISPIE, Associated Press

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Associated Press has learned that two prominent Republicans could be called to testify at the trial of an Ohio businessman accused of making illegal campaign contributions.

Sources close to the case tell the AP that U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (reh-NAY'-see) and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel (man-DEHL') received subpoenas from defense attorneys. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.

The trial began Monday for telemarketing executive Ben Suarez in Cleveland. He is accused of using employees at North Canton-based Suarez Corporation Industries and other sources in 2011 to contribute about $100,000 each to the politicians. Suarez is accused of then repaying the donors, a violation of federal law.

Suarez's attorney says his client is innocent.

The subpoenas were first reported by The Columbus Dispatch.

The politicians aren't accused of wrongdoing and returned the donations.